The best side hustle ideas for Designers

Post by Open Colleges on May 7th, 2021

Calling all creatives: have you ever wondered about how to turn your creative talents into a profitable side hustle?

We’ve experienced first-hand how quickly and dramatically the economy can change. This has forced some of us to start thinking outside the box when it comes to making money. There’s value in remaining flexible, agile, and being able to turn your hand to different endeavours.

So if you’ve ever wondered how to start a successful graphic design side hustle, or how you can make money with a profitable side business, then read on.

How to make $1,000 a month on the side

This is the question we all want to know the answer to. And a simple Google search will reveal thousands of articles with a variety of different answers.

If you work full- or part-time as a Graphic Designer and are looking to make a little extra money on the side, investigating your side hustle options is not a bad idea. If you can dedicate the energy and resources to your side project, you could start making $1,000 a month given time and effort. But remember – no-one can start making bank overnight. It will take perseverance.

For those who work in the design industry, there are a couple of different options. Let’s explore some of the different graphic design side hustles.  

There are countless different ways you can turn your creative talents into a profitable side hustle in the digital age.

What’s a good (and realistic) side hustle for Designers?

If you’re good at something, never do it for free. If you’re a Designer looking to make a little extra money on the side, why not utilise your creative talents?

When you’re first starting, you can’t realistically expect to make hundreds or thousands of dollars a month. But there are plenty of realistic options for you to follow that, with effort and perseverance, you could pursue as a viable income stream. You may even hit on the one thing everyone dreams of – enjoying a passive income and making money while you sleep.

Here’s a list of the top six side gig ideas for Designers.

1. Freelance

With the popularity of websites like Fiverr, Upwork and even Airtasker, it’s easier than ever before for businesses or individuals to hire freelancers for jobs they need.

No longer do you need to rely on word of mouth to get hired as a freelancer. You can sign up to a service website, create your profile, upload a portfolio and you’re ready to go. Sure, you might not get too many jobs to start with. But as you steadily begin to build a bigger portfolio, you can increase your rates or be more selective about the jobs you take on.

2. Design and sell templates and themes

Let’s be honest: sometimes as a Designer, you’ll work on projects that don’t challenge you enough or that you don’t have much interest in. But you need to work within the guidelines of a specific brief and deliver what the client has asked for.

That’s another good thing about a side hustle – you can choose to follow your own creative inspiration without adhering to a client’s specific brief.

If you love creating interesting, eye-catching, stunning layouts, you could use your talents to make templates and themes that others can buy. You could set up your own website or you could market your designs through a reseller such as Creative Market.

This is one way you can begin making a passive income. While there will be a lot of work at the start, once you have a decent portfolio of templates to sell all you need to do is upload them to the right space and wait for your customers to start lining up.

3. Sell your own merchandise

If you’re the kind of artistic soul who loves drawing in your spare time, you could think about turning your works into t-shirt designs, wall art, stickers or anything else you can think of.

First, do a little research on other successful Designers who have a similar style to you. Find out where they market their merchandise and how they reach their audience.

Then, decide how you’re going to bring your designs to life – do you need to get t-shirts printed, or artworks framed? And once you’ve worked that out, you’ll need to choose a place to sell your merchandise. You could sell your merchandise through social media, at a market stall, your own website or through a reseller.

With many people working remotely these days, Designers can work practically anywhere in the world.

4. Sell digital products

Icons, fonts, patterns, skins, logos, infographics, pre-sets, gifs – similar to selling your own themes and templates, you could also try your hand at designing digital products to sell.

If this is your thing, there are a lot of benefits to creating and selling digital design assets. Digital assets can be easy to produce and you don’t need to worry about shipping or handling. The overheads are low and there’s a high-profit margin. Depending on your products, you may even be able to make them customisable, so you can quickly and easily tweak them to suit different customers.

5. Finally start work on your webcomic series

Have you read a webcomic before that’s made your laugh out loud or made you think?

Have you thought, ‘I could do something like that’?

Why not turn it into your moneymaking side hustle?

Creating a webcomic isn’t as simple as just drawing a few panels and posting them online. Like our other suggestions, bringing to life your own webcomic will take just as much thought, planning and effort as any other side project. But, if it’s something you’re passionate about and you believe it’s worth pursuing and trying to make money from, then you can make it happen.

There are a few different ways you could try to make money from your webcomic: you could host paid advertising on your website; offer memberships that unlock special content for paying customers; or you could simply add a ‘pay what you can’ button for readers. You could also utilise suggestion number three and start selling your own webcomic-related merchandise.

To make a successful webcomic, you have to be able to write as well as draw. But if you don’t feel you’ve got the necessary word power, why not try to recruit a wordy friend?

6. Become an Instagram influencer

Instagram is a great platform for Designers, as it allows you to show off your creative talents in an accessible and visually appealing way. And with more than 1 billion Instagram users every month, there’s huge potential for you to attract a large audience of followers.

Start building up a following and you could monetise your Instagram account by not only selling your own products (if you choose to), but by becoming an affiliate marketer or an influencer.

The difference between the two is that influencers get paid to promote other people’s products, while affiliate marketers promote other people’s products and receive a cut of each sale.

Graphic Designers can branch out into many different areas. What skills and talents do you possess that could start earning you a passive income?

How can I start a successful side hustle?

1. Be realistic about how much time you can devote to your side hustle, especially if you’re already working a full- or part-time job. Weigh this up against any money-making goals you want to work towards.

2. Pinpoint your skills, talents, interests and strengths. How can you use these to find your perfect niche?

3. Do your research and establish your groundwork first. If you need to set up a website, social media accounts or an online store, make sure you get onto these things first before you jump right into your project.

4. Set some SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), as these will help you keep on track so you don’t get distracted. A lot of people throw in the towel early on because they’re not making thousands of dollars instantly. You need to persevere.

5. As well as SMART goals, you should also set milestones. Setting milestones will allow you to track your progress and allow you to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Staying agile with your side hustle is important, as it will allow you to pivot quickly. Instead of sweating for something that isn’t making you enough money, remain flexible and respond to demand quickly and efficiently.

6. Leverage existing clients you already have. You can gather testimonials from these clients, and if you let them know that you’re branching out, they may seek out your services or recommend you to other people.

7. Don’t quit your day job… yet. If it’s your goal, then you can eventually turn your side hustle into a legitimate graphic design business. But don’t jump the gun too soon and quit your job before you’ve got a steady and liveable income stream from your side project set up. Try not to also get fired from your day job while you’re focusing on your side hustle. Turning up late to work because you’ve been up until 4.00 am finishing up a freelance project is not going to go down well with your boss.

Where can I learn more about graphic design?

You can study an online graphic design course with OC.

Whether you’re a creative person who wants to begin building your graphic design skills and knowledge to start your side hustle, or you’re currently working and want to learn more about graphic design, we have two online courses that can help you reach your goals.

The CUA50715 Diploma of Graphic Design has been developed for people who already have some experience in graphic design and are looking to expand their skills and knowledge in the design arena.  

The CUA50715 Graphic Design Pathway Program has been specially designed for students who want to begin a career in graphic design, but don’t have any prior experience. This course is perfect for creative-minded people who are looking to build a strong base of foundational knowledge when it comes to graphic design, before undertaking the Diploma of Graphic Design (which is included in this pathways program).  

We also have online courses in photography, interior design and interior decorating.

What are you waiting for? Enrol in a course with OC today and discover just where your creative talents could take you!

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